Monday, September 05, 2005

Props to EdWonk

In answering a question about how NCLB has made life tougher for teachers in California, EdWonk presented this very accurate and thoughtful response. He made comments about teacher responsibility and NCLB totally derelict in meeting the needs of many students. It is a comment, not a post that he made, hence the reason I'm posting it here. But it needed to be said. Here is a link to the original post at EdWonks.

The question was: Exactly what is NCLB causing you to do that STAR (the State of California testing) wasn't doing already?

Fair question.

At our junior high school, we were able to make our API (which is similar to NCLB's AYP) as directed by the state and yet fall short on the NCLB mandate. Here is why. Nearly 40% of our students are designated as Limited English Proficient. (85% of the school is Hispanic, many of which are from poor families) This is because either English isn't spoken in the home or the kids have recently immigrated from a Spanish-speaking country.

Under NCLB, after the child has been enrolled for one year, in any American school that child is expected to perform on the reading, math, (and soon science) tests to the same standard as children who grew-up as English speakers.

Expecting kids to master the English Language (especially when it's not heard at home) in only one year is an unrealistic expectation that has been dictated by the EduCrats in far-off Washington.

Then under NCLB the scores of those non-English-speaking children are included in the school's overall score, thereby dragging down the school's overall NCLB rating.

Remember, under NCLB, all student sub-groups must attain "proficiency" in order for the school to be considered compliant. Otherwise, the school is labeled as "underperforming."

Under state guidelines, a certain percentage (I don't know what it is) must make progress toward learning English. Only after the child is designated as English proficient are those scores factored into the school's rating.

It is a distinction with a difference.

For the past three years, the low test scores earned by our non-English speakers have caused our test scores to be dragged down and tagged our school as "under-performing."

My major concern with NCLB is that it treats different populations of students the same and puts ALL the accountability on the school for student progress while exempting students and parents entirely.

Meanwhile, we spend our time and money hiring consultants, attending meetings, and filling-out paperwork in order to comply with administrative directives to fulfill a plan to remedy our school's deficiencies and keep Washington off our backs.

Over the last few years, my class sizes have increased from 20-25 to the maximum of 35 in every class, (due mostly to Washington not complying with its mandate to control our border and runaway illegal immigration) Washington has now directed that we have "special needs" children included in our classrooms. (I have several with severe learning disabilities; they too are expected to meet the same standards as other kids under NCLB)

I've had no type or pay increase in nearly 4 years and yet the expectation of performance increases each year. (Our test scores have been rising rapidly, just not in all NCLB-mandated "sub-groups" see above.)

I have a standing invitation for Margaret Spellings or any one of her Washington experts to come into my classroom spend a week with my 175 students, and "show me how it's done.)

I want to see Spelling's reaction the first time a kid tells her "I didn't bring a pencil or paper to school." "I didn't study for my test."

I would actually pay to watch Spellings have to deal with 35 real kids all day.

I am a Reagan conservative. I fondly remember a time when the G.O.P. stood for smaller government, with less pork, federal regulations, and a balanced budget.

None of that exists any more. With the passage of the pork-filled transportation bill, one can't even blame The War for Washington's out-of-control spending.

As a Reagan conservative, I strongly feel that oversight of public education should be the State's prerogative. NCLB has changed all that. Again, what concerns me most about NCLB is the fact that the schools are held responsible, while high-level educrats, parents, and the students themselves have no responsibility for academic progress.

I would like to add that we missed our benchmarks over the last two years simply because we could not test the required 95% of the students. Parents are allowed to sign their child out of testing, but it still counts against our score. So how the hell are you supposed to deal with a town population that is so anti-government testing, and still meet benchmarks?
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